Rejestracja: czwartek 12 lut 2015, 22:58
In the summer of 2015 I flew with my wife, Christina, and my daughter, Basia, from Edinburgh in Scotland to Kraków, then drove to Gdów. Gdów is an historic town a short drive from Kraków, and long before it had importance because of its situation on the main road between Vienna and Lemberg (Lwów now Lviv) the area was apparently inhabited by early Celts and was even inhabited as far back as the Paleolithic period. The reason I wished to visit Gdów though was not to research its interesting history but to find out more about my ancestors and primarily two people. Dr Andrzej Kusionowicz, my great grandfather, who became one of Poland's senior Appeal Court judges was born in Gdów in 1861 and his father’s "uncle"(possibly his father’s much older ‘stepbrother’), Ludwik, served as the local priest in Gdów for many years. Fortunately when we arrived at the beautiful and historical church of Gdów we were able to meet with Father Tomasz Jajecznica who kindly invited us to view the birth registries from which we were able to discover many more details of my ancestors, including the fact that Andrzej was among fifteen children of Sylwester (parish teacher and church organist) and Anna Kusionowicz (not an 'only child' as my father had expressed in his book 'The Grodyński Brigade' - the information I have gathered to-date on Andrzej's family is contained in a Wikipedia page in Andrzej's name). Besides visiting the church we also wished to visit the grave of Ludwik Kusionowicz in Gdów Cemetery and to search for possible other graves of my ancestors. The cemetery lies on the northern outskirts of the town and is itself not straightforward to find, even although it lies adjacent to a famous battle for Poland's independence at the time of the Kraków Uprising, the 1846 Battle of Gdów (chronicled by Ludwik). In spite of the damaging effect of over a hundred years of weathering, not to mention falling branches and other ‘natural hazards', the statue of Mary atop the Kusionowicz memorial still held a deep poignancy as crafted (in Mary’s expression and in particular her eyes), by the famous sculptor Edward Stehlik. On returning to Edinburgh, and before posting my photos for relatives and others to see (at a Gdów Wikimedia Commons gallery) I took a closer look at the photo of the 'Kusionowicz' inscription and after enhancement discovered to my surprise that the preceding name was 'Sylwester', not Ludwik (whom from later scrutiny of his death registry record was actually buried under the adjacent Cemetery Chapel).
During the following year I sent many emails to Poland in an attempt to find someone who could restore the grave of my great great grandfather and just when it appeared I was not going to make any progress in this regard, without first returning Poland, I received an email from Franciszek Daniel. Not only was it a pleasure to finally receive a reply to one of my ‘Polish emails’, but highly satisfying to learn that Francis was able to refer me to a local master stonemason, Eugeniusz Kasprzyk, who was prepared to undertake the challenging work. One year after our first visit, we returned to Gdów in order to progress the restoration work by meeting with Francis and Eugeniusz, accompanied by Eugeniusz’s wife Jowita (who speaks excellent English and was very helpful in all discussions). In addition we were given the honour of meeting the Mayor of Gdów District in the Council Offices (where the famous painting by Mieczysław Witorski of the Battle of Gdów hangs today). The meeting was not only a privilege but a very humbling experience as Mayor Zbigniew Wojas presented me with the ‘Medal of Gdów’ which I was extremely proud to accept in spite of feeling I had done little personally to deserve such an honour. While Gdów’ was the ‘home town’ of Sylwester and Ludwik and the birthplace of Andrzej and his brother Wladysław (who became Chief Magistrate of Kraków) and many other family members, my father (also named Andrzej) apparently did not appreciate the significance of Gdów in the history of our family. However, in writing his book he encouraged me to investigate that history and hopefully, in turn, my quest for which his book was the catalyst will help inspire others to record their family stories before these are lost to future generations of Poles and their descendants across the world, perhaps forever. The knowledge that my father through his life and his book, like his immediate family and many of my ancestors, participated in the struggles for an independent Poland, allowed me to gratefully and very humbly accept the honour of the ‘Gdów Medal’ on behalf of those ancestors, especially the ones whose noble and patriotic characters were moulded through life experiences gained in Gdów.
The detailed and dedicated work of Eugeniusz in restoring Sylwester’s Grave true to the original work and creation of Edward Stehlik was regularly relayed to me via Francis’s posts at the Guardians of Time / Guests from Scotland (two pages) web site and it was a great pleasure to learn that the work was completed by November 30, the Name Day of my father and great grandfather as well as the ‘National Day’ of Scotland. The photographs included with this account show some of the incredible transformation of a grave that perhaps not only holds significance for my family but for those wishing to better understand a significant part of Poland’s history during the nineteenth century that remains still sparsely documented. Perhaps as others fulfill their desires to learn more about their ancestors through family stories, remaining records and through inscriptions that have not yet been weathered beyond view (even after ‘enhancement’), we will all learn more about Poland’s fascinating history. In the meantime I will continue my own efforts to discover why all of Sylwester’s sons, their wives and their children, including Jerzy who was one of the founders of the Polish Boy Scouts, changed their surnames from Kusionowicz to Grodyński.
Franek D. pisze:Napisał do mnie Stan Grodyński, że od pewnego czasu próbuje się zarejestrować w j. angielskim na Strażnicy Czasu, ale jego rejestracja nie jest przyjmowana. A chciałby napisać post o ich odwiedzinach w Gdowie.
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